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Playback Data: Yes, Autonomous Cars Can Serve as City Tour Guides During Vacations

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【Summary】In the tourism sector, autonomous cars have very different applications. To start, ridesharing and car-sharing will allow travelers to move around their destination with ease. But going beyond such mainstream applications, driverless vehicles may also serve as virtual tour guides for tech-savvy vacationers.

Michael Cheng    Dec 08, 2016 6:43 AM PT

The introduction of autonomous cars will change the way we live and interact with our surroundings. They can be applied to offer mobility services for senior citizens and individuals with physical disabilities. Furthermore, businesses will eventually be able to run advertising campaigns inside driverless cars, which can help bolster connections between brands and consumers.

Without a doubt, self-driving vehicles have a lot of potential. That's why the technology is so attractive to investors and well-established companies. In the tourism sector, autonomous cars have very different applications. To start, ridesharing and car-sharing will allow travelers to move around their destination with ease. But going beyond such mainstream applications, driverless vehicles may also serve as virtual tour guides for tech-savvy vacationers.

Read on to find out how the proliferation of self-driving cars can make tour guides obsolete.

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Leveraging Pre-Recorded Data

To understand how this could work, it is important to first know that driverless cars are basically computers with wheels. With that in mind, like all computers, the vessels rely on large amounts of data to operate the vehicle in a safe and autonomous manner. At the moment, the type of information being pumped into the units are foundational, such as detecting road obstructions, GPS data and steering functionalities. When treated as playback devices, it would be possible for a person to input pre-recorded driving data into the system. For racing enthusiasts, this would let them load a recorded "best lap" of the track, allowing the driver to re-live the entire experience.

"You may have a long, annoying commute; there could be an online group of people with similar commutes who work together to find the optimal, least trafficked or most scenic or quickest routes, and they could exchange and share their recorded drive files," explained Jason Torchinsky from Jalopnik.

Now, what about road trips? Autonomous cars with playback capabilities should be able to handle curated (pre-recorded) road trip data. In application, you could load an itinerary and route that takes you (for example) from California to Colorado. The playback information will include specific roads to be utilized during the trip, as well as pit stops, local events, special landmarks and etc.

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Virtual Tour Guide

In urban locations, travelers could load pre-recorded tour guides into cars. By comparison, today's city tours, in an attempt to cater to a very wide audience, are mostly one-sided and generic. The need for customized urban tours is on the rise – a need that can be filled using autonomous vehicles. Pre-recorded tours on driverless vehicles could be setup by customers before they set foot in the city. Using the traveler's personal profile, it would also be possible for the system to offer recommendations for dining and entertainment.

"Of course, these recorded playback drives would have to be subject to the entropy of the real world; sometimes traffic and environmental conditions won't allow for the exact playback of a recorded drive, and in those cases the car's existing camera and sensor input would take precedence, and adapt the playback accordingly, to keep everyone safe," said Torchinsky.

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